Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Post-Partum Freezer Meals

At prenatal yoga last weekend, my friend mentioned that we should get together to make some freezer meals before our babies arrive. I had every intention of doing it before Henry arrived, but I could never seem to find inspiring recipes that would lend themselves well to freezing. Because we didn't cook anything in advance, we found ourselves getting take-out a lot.

This time around, it's absolutely imperative that we don't resort to take-out. We're still in intense saving mode as we prepare to close on the permanent loan for our house. We'll also be going back down to one income once the baby comes (for about three to four months), but during that time we'll need to pay for Henry's summer care, Henry's fall tuition, and any babysitters that I need to cover work obligations.

In addition to the financial benefits of eating at home, I'm also eager to capitalize on the health benefits. Matt and I tend to eat much healthier meals when we cook at home. After delivering the newest addition to our family, I'm going to want to focus on restoring my body to its pre-baby condition to the greatest extent possible.

Some ideas for easy freezer meals:
  • The book Fix, Freeze, Feast focuses on big trays of meat from warehouse stores, but I'm eager to check out the section on "meatless" meals. 
  • I've been dying to try out Kelsey's frozen burrito recommendation for ages now.
  • Lasagna would be really easy (and I could use this method to reduce the number of required dishes). 
  • Macaroni and cheese would probably work well.
  • We could easily keep the ingredients for vegetarian chili on hand.
  • I should search for a good enchilada recipe...

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Naan said...

I can recommend freezing soups in muffin pans! It's quicker to freeze and thaw, and you get to take out single portions without defrosting the whole batch :) Transfer them to a resealable bag when frozen solid to prevent freezer burn.

Soup is superfood if you make it at home: a huge serving of veggies, plenty of fluids (many people don't drink enough, soup helps!) and it keeps you satiated for longer than a regular meal would. You can't go much cheaper than soup either! And since you're controlling what you put in the pot, you won't discover that your yummy tomato-soup was flavored with sugar etc. If you like soups with cream, coconut cream or cheese, add those after thawing rather than before freezing. The soup will seperate and while it will still be okay for eating, it won't look very apetizing.

E. said...

Blogger seems to have eaten my comment, so I'll repost -
Definitely check out Once a Month Mom for recipe inspiration and if you like it, you can pay to get the specific freezing instructions and shopping lists, etc. She has a whole vegetarian menu, and it includes breakfasts and lunches. I've never tried it, but I plan to once I've cleared more room in my freezer. If you split the $8 cost with your freezer buddies, it doesn't even seem expensive.

I also highly recommend this chili recipe - it freezes nicely and is really tasty. I usually don't like sweet potato chili but this one was really good.
1 Tbsp oil
green pepper, sliced
red pepper, sliced
onion, sliced
2 cups vegetable stock
2 cans (15.5 oz each) black beans, undrained
1 can white beans
1 can (14.5 oz) crushed tomatoes
1 medium yam, peeled and diced
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 Tbsp cocoa
2 Tbsp honey
3tbs chili powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1/8 tsp cinnamon
Salt and pepper to taste

Saute peppers and onions, add everything else.

Sarah said...

I was also going to mention Once a Month Moms. I only just discovered it, but it seems like a great idea to get ready for a child's arrival as long as you have the freezer space!

KE said...

I like a lot of the recipes from Mama & Baby Love. You can also freeze assembled recipes from Crock pot 365 in a gallon bag, dump it in the crock pot, and have a nice hot meal.

I would caution against making huge batches of one thing, tempting as it is to do in the nesting phase. I lived off of lasagna for the few weeks after my daughter was born and not only can I not stand it, the smell of it gives me hormone flashbacks.

Links to the blogs I mentioned here:


Kelsey said...

It's time for me to start doing this! I made this veggie chili and it froze really well:

I was also thinking about freezing some sweet potato quesadillas and some healthy muffins. The burritos are super easy and great to have on hand!

LauraH said...

I have no children and am not pregnant but ohmylord do I love stocking my freezer! Here are my recommendations:

-muffins (any kind, you can also stir in nuts/seeds for extra protein)
-Soup (I just made carrot and red lentil soup and froze it. Saute onion/garlic, add a pound of chopped carrots and broth to your liking and a cup-ish of red lentils, cook and puree. easy, tasty. I also add curry pwdr or harissa for extra flavor)
- Veggie burgers! My fave recipe is here http://thegoldenyolk.blogspot.com/2010/01/spinach-tofu-burgers.html and they freeze really well
-make bread/pitas/rolls that you can easily warm up and put peanut butter, cheese, whatever you like on them. easy sandwiches are my bff
- Kale and Barley Gratin. SO GOOD! You can bake it in 2-3 serving baking dishes and then let it cool and freeze it. I love this dish! http://catesworldkitchen.com/2010/02/kale-and-barley-gratin/

Those are some of my freezer faves, hope they're helpful!

Our Little Beehive said...

My son is 14m this week and we're still eating out the freezer meals I made before he was born! Soups (split pea soup, yum!) pastas and rice dishes (risotto, burritos, enchiladas, etc.) freeze really well. When my husband and I were dating and lived 1500 miles from each other I would spend two full days cooking when I'd visit every 6-8weeks and fill his freezer with meals. We bought an upright freezer and I'd fill it with 80+ meals each time. He never ate out once - not a bite of fast food ;) You'd be really surprised how much you can freeze. Now I just cook for 6 and freeze a few meals every single time I cook. I means that I don't have to cook every day, which is wonderfully freeing.

Erin said...

I keep thinking I should do this too, but then I remember that I'm giving birth at the end of May and it will likely be hot here by then, and I just can't bring myself to eat most of the things that lend themselves well to freezing when it's hot outside. Lots of soups and casseroles and stuff like that...I just can't do it!

So instead, I think we're going to do a mega stock of meat (I know that's not an option for you), and stick with grilled meat and steamed veggies for most of the summer.

Anonymous said...

Another vote for soups, stews, and chilis as excellent freezer meals. My husband and I have a fourteen-month-old baby, and both work erratic hours, so having soup on hand is always a good idea. Whenever I make a batch of soup I freezer about two-three servings worth in large mason jars.

Having homemade stock on hand is also a great option, because a cup or two of stock plus a can of tomatoes and whatever else you have in your fridge or pantry makes an excellent meal in a hurry. Whenever we have a roast chicken I always use the carcass for stock, that way I'm getting three or four meals out of one bird.

Lady Grey said...

I made a lot of freezer meals before my son was born 3 months ago... and let me tell you, it is SO worth the effort. We really appreciated having them on hand. My tip would be to freeze them small 2-to-4 person portions.

Rach said...

I recently did this too. My first baby is due at the end of the month. We made veggie lasagna, chicken enchiladas, turkey meatballs, and chili. My husband, mom, and I cooked together and it only took about 3 hours to make everything. We have 3 small lasagnas, 2 pans of enchiladas, about 3 dozen meatballs, and 3 containers of chili with 2-3 servings each. So, pretty much the same ideas that you have, although I didn't really use recipes.

beneg said...

We make this all the time and throw in extra celery as well as a few carrots and sliced mushrooms. Delish and keeps in the fridge for a few days too!!!

Autumn Witt Boyd said...

I did this too -- here's what was on my list (no recipes needed). I froze in four-serving batches. Our babies came in the fall so these are hearty winter type foods:

-taco meat (if you have a meatless taco filling recipe you like you could sub that) -- great for taco salads, in tortillas, on chips for nachos...

-spaghetti sauce (we did ours with meat but you could certainly omit)

-soups (ditto other posters)

We had lots of friends and family bring over food right after the boys were born but after that petered out the freezer items were a lifesaver.

Since it will be warm when your little one arrives, are there things you like to grill that maybe you could prep in advance? Veggies don't freeze well to then be grilled, but veggie burgers do!

Allison Campbell said...

This cabbage curry freezes (and thaws) well:

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